COMPUTER CORNER

Reviewed by
Bill Gillespie and Rosemary McDowall

With so many iPads in schools and with most of the apps being foreign-based we decided to do some research to find out if there are any Australian-based companies developing apps for the educational market and we came upon Shiny Things.

Sydney-based Shiny Things is an educational app development start-up that has experienced global success with its range of incredibly popular iPad and iPhone apps. The founder, 29-year-old Mat Peterson, and his creative team are a bit of an Aussie start-up secret that has deliberately kept a low profile. But they’ve now reached nearly one million downloads for their apps.

Having launched his first Mac application, M Beat, at just 17 years of age, then setting up The Little App Factory a year later, Mat was developing apps before they were cool and was definitely a bit of an app wunderkind. Mat was always concerned that existing technology was not able to truly help advance innovation in teaching and education. The iPad gave him a platform to change all that. Having a long-held passion for programming and learning, this young and ambitious entrepreneur launched Shiny Things in 2012.

Shiny Things has created a number of apps including Shiny Bakery, a learning tool for children aged two to five that introduces early number sense through counting, measuring, dividing, and sequencing activities.

Another app, Shiny Circus, allows children to explore measurement by making comparisons in length, width, area, distance and mass while learning the everyday language used to describe these concepts.

With Shiny Party children practise essential basic geometry skills, and Shiny Picnic — helps children to read along with the story and then help “Charlie and his friends” in three embedded games.

Shiny Things has also produced three apps in their Quick Math series — Quick Maths, Quick Maths+ and Quick Clocks. For this column we thought we would download Quick Maths+ and see how it would work in the classroom.

Quick Maths+ addresses the NSW Mathematics Stage 2 and 3 Syllabus in fostering the quick recall of multiplication and division facts and basic addition and subtraction facts as well as the development of mental strategies for multi-digit addition and subtraction problems. We suggest that some sections of the app could be used in Stage 4; even math “experts” like us found some parts of Quick Math+ a little challenging.

Quick Math+ introduces game modes to test memory, logic, estimation ability and pattern recognition as well as arithmetic skill.

When the app opens you are given four choices from the home screen: solve, compare, memorise or swap. Once a choice is made the user is given a number of equations to solve. Instead of selecting from multiple choice options or a keypad, in Quick Maths students can write answers directly on screen.

Each round of questions is timed and the user is informed when a personal best has been scored. As the user improves he or she also unlocks a number of fun avatars to use in the game play. Users can also see a graph of their progress so they can get instant feedback as they play the game. This app could be a useful tool in the classroom.

Software supplied for review by Click PR. Software reviewed by Rosemary McDowall and Bill Gillespie. Bill teaches at Manly Village while Rosemary teaches at The Forest High. They can be contacted at computer_corner2000@yahoo.com.